Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How We Homeschool: Our Daily Schedule

Over the past few years our schedule has fluctuated a lot with work and school.
My first rule to scheduling is that whatever your schedule may be, it is made to be broken. 
That said, I do my best to stick to our schedule on the days that we are home.  However, should we wake up to a gloriously sunny day in the middle of April and decide to go to the beach, we just go with the flow! I read somewhere that you should make a routine, not a schedule, and that seems to suit our family perfectly.

I have a bit of type A in me and I tend to schedule and plan things to death, and because of that, our schedule is usually shot before it ever gets going. I've tried several things over the past few months and have finally devised a schedule routine that works. Here are a few rules that I've learned to abide by for my family:

1) We are not(!) morning people.  We need nice relaxed mornings with plenty of wake up time. I don't argue with people or make excuses anymore, it's just the way we work best. If there is an activity that we want to attend, we arrange for it, otherwise we are generally moving at a normal pace by about 9:00.
2) Not everyone needs the worm. Because we are not morning people, and I'm especially a night owl, I've given up completely on the early to bed early to rise nonsense. The boys are in bed between 8:30 and 9:00 and they generally get up between 7:00 and 8:00. I am in bed between 11:00 and 12:00 and get up with the boys in the morning. Breakfast is generally a free for all affair. We always have toast, yogurt, fruit, granola, and cereal on hand, all of which the boys can get themselves.
3) Everyone needs quiet time in their day. I am blessed to have a 4.5 year old that has taken 2-3 hour naps everyday of his life, until recently. Even though our napping days are generally over, we still have a two hour quiet time every day that we are home. I recently went from one hour quiet times to two hours after reading The Well Trained Mind. Two hours seem a bit drastic but it really wasn't that big of an adjustment. The boys are allowed to look at books or do other quiet activities as long as they don't interfere with each other's, or my, quiet time. After the first hour is over they often have the option of using their LeapPads for the second hour. 
4) Our school time fluctuates and will be changing again with the new school year. I work out of the house from about 10:00 - 2:00 each day. Since I work for a family operated web based business on my dad's property, the boys get to go with me! They spend lots of time with their grandparents and will be doing some school work while we are there. I plan to have J work on notebooking pages and workbook type activities under my supervision while I work. We will utilize audio books during this time and I will have games to offer the boys to play together. When we get home A will use his quiet time box while J and I have focused work time. We also read together most nights before bed and will continue to do so. We school around our lives, not the other way around.
5) We all have chores and they generally need to be done in the morning. As I mentioned before, the boys generally wake up between 7:00 and 8:00. We leave the house between 9:00 and 9:30. Between those times the boys are responsible for getting up, dressing themselves, eating breakfast, and doing their chores. I do my "chores" sporadically throughout the day. We all have chore charts, but that's for another post.
6) Screen time is always a problem at our house. J is a screen addict and will ask every five minutes if we let him. As I mentioned above, the boys sometimes have the option of using their LeapPads during the second hour of quiet time, we'll be using the computer and Kindle for many school related activities this year, all other screen time is reserved for after dinner and is never a necessity. We don't have a hard and fast rule for their TV viewing, we have Netflix and often borrow movies from the library. Sometimes I tell them they have to watch something educational and they know that Magic School Bus, a library video, or Sesame Street are all options, the recent change to Netfix is amazing and I just created "my lists" for the boys.
7) It doesn't matter if it's Saturday or Monday, or Wednesday, or whatever day. We homeschool because we love it and it's flexible. The Mister is still going to school and works several nights a week. Which means that we take advantage of the time that he's home to do stuff together, even if it means hiking on Tuesday or visiting family out of town during the week. My mom blessed us with a Children's Museum membership that we will be using a lot this winter, and I plan on joining a few homeschool co-ops for various activities, plus I work part time out of the house. So we take advantage of the time that we have and we squeeze in science experiments and castle engineering whenever we can, even if we're doing "school" on a Saturday.

So our day generally looks something like this:
7:00 - 10:00 Get up, dressed, breakfast, chores, we'll squeeze in some reading time, out the door
10:00 -  2:00 I work during this time outside of the house; the boys will work on notebooking pages, workbook practice, listen to audio books, watch educational videos, play outside, visit with their grandparents, and often help me.
2:00 - 4:00 A will play independently using his quiet time box, or take a nap, J and I will have focused work time
4:00 - 6:00 The boys have free play time while I make dinner and take care of household things. 
6:00 - 8:00 our activities here will depend on the day and everyone's mood. If The Mister is at work the boys and I may continue with school related activities, do a project together or play a game. If dad is home we often watch a movie together, play games, or the boys have some extra free play time.
8:00-8:30 The boys get in bed and The Mister or I read to them. Currently I am reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and The Mister is working on the Chronicles of Narnia.
9:00 - Until I crash! My time to do whatever I want to do, or need to do.

Don't stress about scheduling every hour of your day. Keep a calendar and a routine. Write down things you have to do, choose the things you really want to do, and be careful that you don't commit to too much.Then work in everything else. If school is a must for you and it works best between 8:00 and 12:00, then do that, if you're committed to co-ops, have daily exercise partners, or prefer to run errands on specific days, factor that in! Write yourself a routine, not a schedule, and leave plenty of room for flexibility.

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